Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

YOUTHS' MAGAZINE;

OR,

EVANGELICAL MISCELLANY.

OCTOBER, 1851.

ACADEMY OF ST. PETERSBURG.

THE academy of sciences at St. Petersburg was founded in 1724 by Peter the Great, aided by the counsels of Liebnitz. Neglected during the reign of Peter II., it was warmly patronized by Anne, and re-organized by Elizabeth, who furnished it with new laws and materially extended its benefits. But it received its most favorable impulse from the munificent encouragement given to it by Catherine II., who, in connection with it, employed her most learned and able savants on missions, which, though eminently scientific in their nature, had all, more or less, a practical bearing on the interests of her subjects, especially as regarded health, agriculture, and social economy. Since 1726, the proceedings of the society have been regularly published-in Latin, down to the year 1803, and since that time in French.

Its library, which consists of upwards of 100,000 volumes, contains some very old and curious Russian versions of the Bible, and a variety of important manuscripts in all languages. The Asiatic Museum is rich in writings of the many nations of that vast country, in coins, medals, objects of art, and those elegant articles of luxury for which the East is so justly famous. In the Egyptian department,

U

the collection of papyri, mummies, and relics, is most interesting. The ethnographical collections are not large, but comprise dresses, decorations, and utensils of many widely scattered people, and some beautiful original drawings made during two circumnavigations of the globe. The numismatic cabinet is particularly rich in Russian monies and medals.

Our engraving is taken from the Gallery of Natural History, the earliest part of the collection, commenced by a purchase made in 1698, by Peter the First. It is particularly rich in what are usually designated antediluvian remains. The monstrous mammoth, or mastodon, which forms so conspicuous a figure in our plate, deserves especial remark, from the circumstance of its showing so clearly the distinctive character of the tusks, which, unlike those of the elephant, project laterally, and are of unprecedented growth. Some ten years since, Mr. Albert Koch, a German, brought over, and exhibited here, a gigantic animal of the same kind, which he called, from the place of its discovery, the Missourium. It measured thirty-two feet in length, and fifteen in height, and the spread of the tusks, following the curve, was no less than twenty-one feet. Although Mr. Koch positively asserted that he found “the right tusk solid in the head when he first discovered it,” the position was supposed by some of our first geologists to be so unnatural, that they very ungenerously charged him with deception. Though this charge was indignantly repudiated, it gained ground amongst the leading geologists, and the exhibition was closed with loss. So much for the blinding influence of theory and generalization, and so much for the encouragement held out to discoverers, whose labors, as in this case, may be decried, and their fair fame extinguished by a Pooh! Pooh! from the tarry-at-home travellers of science.

EVANGELIST'S BOOK-SHELVES.

A LITTLE sea-girt island, once deemed so remote from civilization, as to be almost beyond the ends of the earth, at length aspired to competition with its grander neighbours; and after a long series of patient perseverance, surmounting the obstacles of ungenial climate and soil, yielding scarcely any vegetation of value, its inhabitants constructed a Palace such as poets sing of, and invited all sorts and conditions of men to unite in decorating its apartments, and peopling it with guests.

[ocr errors]

The great nations were astounded, and seemed at a loss whether to regard the proposal as a jest or insult; but nevertheless accepted the challenge, and their deputies resorted in gleeful mood across the ocean-barrier.

Behold here an array of splendour somewhat like that fair of the olden time, wherein might be seen "the Italy Row, the France Row, the Russia Row, the Germany Row," with divers other "Rows" never dreamed of by good old John Bunyan! Goodly fruits were there, the proofs of God's provision and man's ingenuity in making the most of the bounty vouchsafed to him. Cunning devices had been skillfully executed, while intricate machinery and delicate instruments attested near approach to perfection in the useful arts.

The vast profusion silenced the vociferous multitude, yet the listening ear detected many a pleasing sound of various satisfaction. It was interesting to observe the glow of delight succeeding a recognition of familiar tones, or kindred dialect, while a message from home seemed an electric shock of joy or grief to the recipients.

It was easy in most cases to assort the crowd, and determine from their dress and language, whence they came and whither they were bound. In other instances, an odd mingling of opposing characteristics excited doubts respecting the citizenship of parties who might consider themselves cosmopolites. It was but rarely that national costume was strictly retained, and most professed to adopt the island tongue, yet their speech betrayed each foreigner.

But if these external distinctions were obvious, there were also other peculiarities of moral nature, which divided or united the company more completely! Viewed in this light, the most

heterogeneous associations were formed, most singular diversity linked in warm and undying brotherhood. The swarthy Negro and the polished European might be heard conversing of mutual relations, trials, and prospects! The savage Feejee, once cannibal, now joined the philanthropist in seeking the welfare of universal man! The rude Hottentot's eyes glistened as he spoke with the sedate and orderly Hollander of a future gathering of nations, where both sought similar honors! The Esquimaux displayed with affectionate gratitude, the books and the arts taught him by those Danish and Moravian friends who had wished so much to convey the message of peace to his icebound shores!

A visitor might wander through the busy halls of that peerless palace, regarding its motley assembly as denizens of only two regions—candidates for only two preferments!

66

There was one spot which attracted peculiar attention from many individuals distinguished by a certain repose of countenance, which ennobled even the plainest features. A stranger's eye might detect nothing extraordinary in the unpretending article of furniture which met his curious gaze, yet was it dear to a thousand hearts, for it was Evangelist's Book-case,” and contained his favorite volume, copied into almost every known language of the habitable earth! On the open pages, a message from home awaited all who chose to receive it! What various faces lighted up with joy, as every one read, each in his own tongue, some sweet word of parental love and watchful care! How many feeble steps were quickened as they pursued their course to fulfil their father's behests! How many a cup of bitterness was sweetened by some ingredient dealt out from the home store-house! How many weary travellers were refreshed by an assurance of the preparations made for their safe arrival in the paternal mansion!

"Breathes there the man with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land !
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,

From wandering on a foreign strand!"

Some were observed to change their attire after perusing the

message addressed to them; outer wraps were thrown aside, and an elegant dress of the purest fabric, shone forth so becomingly, one marvelled that its wearer should have previously concealed it. Others were busy brushing the dust from similar apparel, whose lustre had thus been defaced. Occasionally, and afar off, some individuals passed by of most unpleasing aspect, clad in a sable garb, which rendered their haggard features, and rayless eyes still more appalling. These glanced with supreme contempt on most around them, scowling with especial hatred upon those white robed ones who joyfully hailed the aforesaid message. Rejecting with haughty scorn, the condescending invitations addressed to themselves, they received other tokens, but these not being of happy omen, were despised as false or counterfeit, and they vented their rage upon more grateful and highly favoured inquirers.

Patient attention to passing circumstances soon enabled the spectator to discriminate several shades of difference in the habits and dialects of the groups comprising the principal divisions of the gathered multitudes. Amongst those receiving unfavourable tokens were many, who clothed in sackcloth and ashes fretted the physical frame with fasting and penance to procure peace to the sin-struck soul; or to merit that praise and reward which could never be earned by earthly labourers! Others of scrupulous speech, and measured gait, deemed a certain routine of heartless formality, the sure passport to endless fame. Yet "Not every one that saith unto me Lord! Lord! shall enter into the kingdom, but they that do the will of my Father," was the clause in Evangelist's scroll, which seemed intended for such devotees. Some paused at the cabinet, and looked with longing eye upon its precious records, but thought its wondrous tale could not be true; at any rate, had not the indubitable signs of verity they required for the origin and authority it claimed ; hence it could not be worthy of credence! Had the venerable Evangelist himself been present, perchance he would have pointed to the promises " If any man will do the will of my father he shall know of the doctrine." "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." A few went a step beyond scepticism, and professing to have examined every evidence of genuineness, boldly proclaimed their title to the

« PreviousContinue »